One person who played a role in the program was Indianpolis resident Katrina Gossett, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy and uses a wheelchair for mobility. However, she does not let her disability slow her down. She is active with Comedy Sportz Improv and is an attorney with Faegre Baker Daniels.
She also actively volunteers for Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance dogs to people with disabilities other than blindness.
“Canine Companions has been a part of my life for 17 years,” said Gossett, who recently received her third dog from the agency. “I cannot imagine my life without any of the dogs I’ve received from Canine Companions.”
The organization’s goal is to enhance the lives of people with disabilities, and the dogs help in this mission by learning more than 40 commands.
“My service dog, Ella, helps me every day at home by turning on and off light switches, retrieving things I drop and tugging open the office door for me,” Gossett said.
Before petting an assistance dog, Gossett stresses that you should ask if it’s OK. “Be prepared to be told no sometimes. As cute as they are, they are there to do a job. I assure you, Ella gets plenty of love at home.
“To anyone considering applying for an assistance dog, I would say go for it! It will enhance your life in ways you don’t expect. For example, when Ella is around my disability drops out of the picture. She is my constant companion, my friend and my assistant.”